The recent vote in the European Parliament is a response to the US refusal to allow visa-free travel from five European nations.
Last week, the European Union (EU) voted to approve a non-binding resolution that would require American citizens to obtain a visa before they can enter any EU country. This move came after the U.S. refused to agree to visa-free travel for citizens of five EU countries — Poland, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Cyprus.
At the moment, American citizens are still allowed to travel to all EU nations without visas.
The current issue is not related to Trump administration orders on travel and immigration. According to the UK’s Telegraph (via Yahoo News), the European Commission discovered three years ago that the U.S. was not meeting its obligations under a reciprocity agreement, but no legal action was taken. Other countries like Canada, Australia, and Japan were also failing in their obligations but all four have lifted, or will be lifting, visa restrictions on all EU citizens.
The Commission now has two months to reintroduce visas for Americans who wish to travel to Europe.
There is great concern that a suspension of the visa waiver for Americans would mean that EU countries would take a substantial hit when it comes to tourism and trade. The Telegraph reports that some 30 million Americans visit EU countries each year, spending approximately $54 billion.
The need to obtain a visa to enter a country is believed to be a disincentive for travelers because of the extra cost, time, and effort it requires. Because of this, countries often loosen their visa requirements when they want to boost tourism. Nevertheless, in spite of warnings from the European Travel Commission about the damage such a “visa war” — as some have called it — might cause, the resolution was passed.